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Management article
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Reference no. R0108A
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Originally published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2001
Version: 1 September 2001
Revision date: 13-Feb-2013

Abstract

THIS CASE STUDY INCLUDES BOTH THE CASE AND THE COMMENTARY. FOR TEACHING PURPOSES, THE REPRINT IS ALSO AVAILABLE IN TWO OTHER VERSIONS: CASE STUDY ONLY AND COMMENTARY ONLY. After a long stint in consulting, Jane Epstein has just become a manager at TechniCo. She's trying to get a fix on the various personalities and roles of her new coworkers, and by and large, she seems to have inherited a pretty good team. One's got a lot of social capital built up; another seems to be a natural salesperson. Something about Andy Zimmerman, though, has her worried. At first she can't put her finger on it - maybe he's a bit too aggressive? But as time passes, she watches Andy's mean streak show itself again and again: He belittles administrative assistants for minor mistakes, ruthlessly cuts down colleagues when they present ideas that aren't fully developed, and makes everyone in the group feel small and stupid. But Andy has another side: He's usually right, and he's very, very good at his job. In fact, in terms of pure performance, he's the best Jane's got. She'd be crazy not to want him in her group. And yet, she can't deny that Andy's behavior is undermining morale and hurting the team's financial performance. Now Jane's feeling frustrated. When she left her consulting job for this position, she expected to focus on numbers, products, customers - on building something. Instead, she finds that people issues are taking up most of her time. This fictional case study explores the dynamics that occur when a star performer has a highly abrasive personality. Mary Rowe, Chuck McKenzie, Kathy Jordan, and James Waldroop advise Jane on how she can curb Andy's bad behavior without hurting the team's bottom line.

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Abstract

THIS CASE STUDY INCLUDES BOTH THE CASE AND THE COMMENTARY. FOR TEACHING PURPOSES, THE REPRINT IS ALSO AVAILABLE IN TWO OTHER VERSIONS: CASE STUDY ONLY AND COMMENTARY ONLY. After a long stint in consulting, Jane Epstein has just become a manager at TechniCo. She's trying to get a fix on the various personalities and roles of her new coworkers, and by and large, she seems to have inherited a pretty good team. One's got a lot of social capital built up; another seems to be a natural salesperson. Something about Andy Zimmerman, though, has her worried. At first she can't put her finger on it - maybe he's a bit too aggressive? But as time passes, she watches Andy's mean streak show itself again and again: He belittles administrative assistants for minor mistakes, ruthlessly cuts down colleagues when they present ideas that aren't fully developed, and makes everyone in the group feel small and stupid. But Andy has another side: He's usually right, and he's very, very good at his job. In fact, in terms of pure performance, he's the best Jane's got. She'd be crazy not to want him in her group. And yet, she can't deny that Andy's behavior is undermining morale and hurting the team's financial performance. Now Jane's feeling frustrated. When she left her consulting job for this position, she expected to focus on numbers, products, customers - on building something. Instead, she finds that people issues are taking up most of her time. This fictional case study explores the dynamics that occur when a star performer has a highly abrasive personality. Mary Rowe, Chuck McKenzie, Kathy Jordan, and James Waldroop advise Jane on how she can curb Andy's bad behavior without hurting the team's bottom line.

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